19 April 1999 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]Altus Biologics Inc., the Cambridge, Mass.-based biocatalysis company, expects to triple its annual revenues this year and achieve profitability in 2000, according to Joseph R. Blanchard, the company's vice-president for worldwide sales and marketing.
Gains will be driven by the use of Altus' cross-linked enzyme crystal (CLEC) technology in the biocatalytic synthesis of pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals, especially chiral compounds.
Altus' CLEC catalysts are already used on scales of up to 12,000 liters. More than 300 customers in 29 countries use Altus' products and process development expertise, and two or three major strategic alliances are expected by the end of the year.
Customer-funded collaborations are also underway with major players in clinical diagnostics and personal-care products, two segments that are likely to become even more important as industry becomes more aware of CLECs, says Mr. Blanchard.
Biocatalysts, or enzymes, are more specific and efficient than chemical catalysts. But the tendency of enzymes to lose their active conformation (denature) when removed from their natural environment has limited their usefulness in industry.
Altus' solution is to purify, crystallize and stabilize. The company first purifies an enzyme by crystallization. Immobilized within a crystal lattice, the molecules of an enzyme are no longer free to denature.
The crystal is then further stabilized by cross-linking with an agent such as glutaraldehyde. The result is a stable, pure and highly active polymeric catalyst that combines the power of enzymes with the durability of chemical catalysts.
Begun in 1993 to develop and commercialize this technology, Altus is now an integrated, full-service manufacturer offering an extensive range of products and services for biocatalysis, says Kevin Stellner, Altus' national sales manager.
Altus offers CLECs for chiral resolution, peptide coupling and chemical synthesis. The company also provides screening kits for ester hydrolysis and transesterification, and a range of soluble enzymes available from commercial sources.
Mr. Stellner expects the company's services to generate considerable growth. Altus' Process Development Service can develop a biocatalysis in two to four weeks and optimize it shortly thereafter, including providing analytical procedures, catalyst screening and identification, process development, and purification techniques.
Altus' Custom CLEC Service can produce CLEC catalysts using a customer's soluble enzyme. A prototype CLEC and proof-of-concept can be delivered in one to three months, providing a fast, cost-effective way for customers to determine the value of the technology for their application.
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